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All Posts Tagged With: "Coin Slabs"

Rare Slabs Can Carry Big Premiums!

By Steve Roach- First published in the December 6, 2010, issue of Coin World

Some collectors wouldn’t agree with the statement, “buy the coin, not the slab,” because to them, the slab is just as important as the coin.

In particular, some collectors have acquired a taste for Numismatic Guaranty Corp. “black” holders.

NGC was formed in 1987 and these holders were used for the first several months of operation, roughly from September through November 1987.

They are similar in shape to today’s NGC slabs, but differ in that the insert securing the coin is black, and the white insert with the coin’s identifying information is on the side that displays the reverse, where the coin seems upside down.

The obverse in black holders is displayed on the side with the NGC stamped logo, which for current holders is on the back of the slab.

Few of these holders remain today. Estimates on the number of surviving black holders range from 35 to 200, and they are collected as novel relics of the early days of third-party coin grading.

Occasionally they turn up and trade at auction.

At a Nov. 14 eBay auction, a New Jersey seller offered a 1924 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagle in an NGC Mint State 62 “black” slab. (Pictured, image courtesy of Danielle’s, on eBay as onionsavenged)

It sold for an astonishing $3,805. In comparison, one major dealer is selling current-holder NGC MS-62 double eagles for $1,600 and MS-66 coins for $2,850.

While grading was perhaps more conservative back in the early days of NGC, and the seller said the coin “looks like a MS64,” the huge premium must be attributed more to the holder than to the coin.

Nine bidders competed for the coin, with the underbidder dropping out at $3,755. The seller set the starting bid at $2,750 – a price nearly comparable to a current holder NGC MS-66 piece.

While the black holders were flattering to brilliant silver coins or lustrous Mint State gold coins, the holders did little to flatter dark coins and copper, and the holder was retired at the end of 1987.

There is even a 420-page book on slabs by Michael Schmidt, Third Party Grading/Certification Services, that covers more than 80 companies that produced slabs and 200 varieties of normal production slabs.

Unusual Items: NGC Black Slab

On Nov 14th, a rarely seen and unusual item sold on eBay, but what made this sale interesting was not the coin being sold, but rather the holder it was in.

The coin was a 1924 Saint graded MS-62.  and it sold for $3805.oo with 9 bidders, over twice what one might expect given this is a common date Saint in an unremarkable grade. The 100% premium was for the slab, a First generation BLACK NGC Holder.

The eBay sellers description offered the following comments on the holder…..

“When NGC first started operations in late 1987, they used this black holder with a white grading insert.

The first generation black NGC slabs didn’t always carry the big premiums that they do now.

The main problem was, while Gold coins and untarnished Silver coins looked amazing, copper coins (especially brown oxidized ones) and other dark, circulated Silver coins proved hard to see with the black filling.  Thus, for the second generation NGC holders, the filling was changed to white and has remained that way to this day with NGC.

Following marketing advice at the time in 1987, the coin was inserted right-side-up the coin is upside-down reverse!  This was also corrected in the subsequent generations on NGC slabs so the coin would be right-side-up when the grading insert is viewed right-side-up.

The black holder was only used by NGC for a month or so (September-November 1987).  Grading was quite conservative in those days when compared to grading today.  As such, the black holders that surfaced in later years were cracked and the coin resubmitted in pursuit of a higher grade which is why they subsequently became so rare!”